Guest Opinion: Local Prides are building strength and resilience

  • by Eve Keller and Ron deHarte
  • Wednesday June 26, 2024
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Ron deHarte, left, and Eve Keller are co-presidents of USA Prides. Photos: Courtesy the subjects<br>
Ron deHarte, left, and Eve Keller are co-presidents of USA Prides. Photos: Courtesy the subjects

June will soon be in the rear-view mirror, but what a time it's been with the joy and celebration that accompanies Pride Month. In many cities and towns across the country, Pride season has been undertaken in earnest. This year's Pride events — as they have been for many decades — will be another opportunity for local communities to unite, advocate, and create safe and affirming spaces in a world of new challenges and increasing hostility. This year will also provide opportunities for individual community members to get involved and give back.

The United States Association of Prides, or USA Prides, is a national network of organizations that produce LGBTQ+ Pride festivals, parades, rallies, marches, concerts, theater and arts programs, picnics, and more. Through our members and the opportunities we provide for networking, collaboration, and resource-sharing, we have witnessed the bravery and resilience of local Pride organizers all across the country.

The surge of anti-LGBTQ legislation sweeping across the U.S. over these past few years has instilled a new sense of urgency for communities large and small. Laws targeting LGBTQ+ youth, trans youth health care, affirming school environments, drag performers, and Pride organizations and their events have galvanized our community — and our community's opponents — in ways not seen since the fight for marriage equality.

Local organizers have answered the call. Last year, some Pride organizers found themselves fighting censorship efforts and event permit denials in both conservative-leaning states like Tennessee and in more seemingly progressive states like Massachusetts. In other instances, organizers got creative, changing their event plans to comply with restrictive local rules or new legislation. In bigger cities unaffected by the wave of hostile legislation, Pride organizers pulled through with messages of strength and solidarity, reminding their local communities that the fight for equality, safety, and affirmation remains a nationwide priority.

Pride events are an essential haven of belonging and safety. They are community-wide celebrations in which some people may, for the very first time in their lives, find themselves surrounded with joy, love, and acceptance. We all remember our first Pride — the first time we, too, experienced that overwhelming freedom to live into our authentic and genuine selves. It is where many of us first found widespread connection and camaraderie, along with opportunities to give back and to serve. Pride events often serve as the common ground and single-largest opportunity each year through which local LGBTQ+ communities build their own networks of volunteers, supporters, and donors. USA Prides' member organizations collectively attract more than 28 million event attendees annually. Pride organizations and the events they produce are a powerful engine of social change and community capacity building.

The power of Pride events — nearly all offered to the public with free admission — do not come without cost. From the largest in the country to the smallest in the most isolated rural areas, Pride events are always a significant financial and logistical undertaking. Pandemic-related economic challenges, including the cancellation of most Prides for a year or more, drastically impacted all Pride organizers. When many organizers were finally able to mount events again in 2022 or 2023, they faced wildly different financial circumstances, as costs rose for labor and supply-chain challenges meant increased costs for goods.

USA Prides closely followed the post-COVID experiences of local organizers. We, too, were affected by the pandemic, which forced us to push back plans for our first national conference by several years. Virtual gatherings could never provide the kinds of networking, education, and collaboration we witnessed this past January, when we held our second, in-person national gathering. There, USA Prides hosted more than 120 member organizations across 35 U.S. states and territories and offered opportunities for continued education and skills-building for fundraising and development, volunteer recruitment and engagement, and community-making.

In this critical time for our LGBTQ+ community, we challenge you to help spread this message of love, joy, and change in your own community and professional settings. Volunteer your time, talents, and resources to help grow Pride. If you need help, reach out! USA Prides and our network of organizers across the country stand ready to help you with networking, skills-sharing, and resources. If you're in the position to do so, generously contribute to USA Prides and your local Pride organization so we can continue creating safe and affirming spaces for our community.

At USA Prides, we believe that Pride events are more than just parades or parties. They are powerful forces for positive social change, safe places for belonging and affirmation, and opportunities that inspire advocacy and community action.

As we close out June, we ask you to be mindful of the many ways you can play a positive role in shaping our continued LGBTQ+ liberation movement. The moment that sparked a revolution in June 1969, commemorated in Pride events all across the country and the world, is still alive with us today. It is asking each of you to rise to the challenge, just as local Pride organizations and USA Prides members are doing each and every day.

Eve Keller (she/her), a lesbian, and Ron deHarte (he/him), a gay man, are co-presidents of USA Prides, a national network of LGBTQ+ Pride organizations across the United States and its territories committed to collaboration, networking, resource-sharing, and education. DeHarte is also an elected member of the Palm Springs City Council. Learn more at

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